One of the oddest duets of all time has to be Bing Crosby and David Bowie doing the classic holiday mash-up “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.”
Let’s get a little bit of history: Bing used to do a Christmas special with his family every year. Music, skits, etc, mostly music of course, since after all, this is Bing “the Original Crooner” Crosby we’re talking about. Well his last special was shot in London in 1977a few months before his death. It had many guests, as Christmas specials are wont, and one of the guests was David Bowie currently riding high on his “Heroes” album.
No one seems to know who thought bringing Bowie on to Bing’s special was a good idea, but proximity probably helped considering Bowie was living in London at the time. Whoever it was booked Bowie and set him to perform “The Little Drummer Boy” with Bing, but, slight hitch, Bowie didn’t like “Drummer Boy” for his voice and asked for something else.
Frantic, the special’s team quickly wrote a new melody and lyrics to go over “Drummer Boy” and create a new medley. Once “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” was complete, Bing and Bowie rehearsed for about an hour and filmed the performance.
Thus was the creation of one of the most beloved, if most anomalous, Christmas duets ever. It still feels weird to think of Bing and Bowie together, but I think everyone can agree they created a beautiful and haunting duet and it is certainly in keeping with the message of the season: Peace on earth, good will toward men.